A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.
Times’ story on UW student’s case fair and informative
Editor, The Times:
I find it refreshing that there is finally an in-depth piece about the ongoing Amanda Knox case taking place in Italy [“Amanda Knox’s family: ‘We’ll do whatever it takes,’ ” Times, page one, Aug. 18].
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Regardless of whether Knox is guilty, it’s about time a newspaper finally stops speculating and begins reporting the cold, hard facts of the case.
As a UW student about to embark on a trip to Europe, it’s eye opening to see that although European countries may seem like our own, their criminal-justice systems are strikingly different, which is something that needs to be touched on more by the University of Washington before students leave to go abroad.
I feel for Amanda and her family: It appears that she has not only been the victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but also of an apparent witch hunt by the head Italian prosecutor, Guiliano Mignini.
I can only hope that in the end, justice is found for all the families involved in the case.
— Jessica Dickinson, Seattle
Debate over the fate of trees verges on the silly
Sometimes, government agencies can’t win for losing. Take the disputed grove of trees at Ingraham High School, for example [“Order spares trees — for now,” Local News, Aug. 14]. On one side is Seattle Public Schools, which wants to remove some of the trees in order to construct an annex.
Not removing the trees means the district will have to spend substantially more money for the project. Presumably, the public appreciates it when a government agency finds a way to spend less of its money.
On the other side, a tiny group of people want the grove left intact so they can enjoy it.
It doesn’t bother them that more of their tax dollars — and mine — than necessary will be spent.
If this dispute occurred in a different part of the city, you can be sure they’d be complaining loudly about unnecessary expenditures of their tax dollars.
You can’t have it both ways, folks. You can’t force the district to overspend and then complain.
The trees gotta go.
— David Gardner, Seattle
Trees are dying, and we’re not caring
Not so long ago, I watched in horror as 100-year-old oaks were destroyed to create Auburn’s Sound Transit station. Next, I stood powerless as the greenbelt behind my home was mowed down to erect an Elephant carwash. No effort to incorporate the existing trees was even attempted during these development projects.
Now, a weeping poplar that was supposedly protected by its Heritage Tree status was sheared, almost killing it [“Heritage Tree is pruned, mourned,” Local News, Aug. 14].
If we modeled our development practices after those of California’s Central Coast, we might remain the “Evergreen State.” Open-space preservation is crucial to California’s highly controlled land management. In stark contrast, we do little to protect our city’s trees, greenbelts and suburban farms, and so urban sprawl goes on unabated.
The irony is we are destroying the very reason people come here. Our trees are disappearing at an alarming rate, and seemingly nothing is being done to stop it.
— Lisa Harmon, Auburn
An arborist’s view
As an arborist and the owner of a Seattle tree-care company, I was appointed by Mayor Greg Nickels to the Emerald City Task Force in the summer of 2007.
Our charge was to work with the city’s Department of Planning and Development to help create guidelines for increased tree protection on development sites. The task force also weighed in on how other city agencies could work to save more trees in Seattle and help meet the mayor’s goal of planting 600,000 more trees in the next 30 years.
One of the things that continued to come up was how easy it is for residents and commercial and public institutions to remove trees. Unless the property is under development or within an environmentally critical area, or the trees are on a public right of way, there are no rules to prevent owners from clear-cutting. We advocated for a permit system that would at least give owners pause before they grabbed the saws and leveled trees needlessly.
The current controversy over the tree removal at Ingraham High School makes me wonder if anyone at Seattle Public Schools has a clue.
Yes, the district is legally entitled to remove all the trees, but the admitted end run around development rules is in direct opposition to the mayor’s goals of retaining tree canopy and reforesting the city.
Does anyone see the hypocrisy in teaching children about the role of trees and vegetation in mitigating global-climate change while we mow down an entire woodlot to build more buildings and lay down impervious surfaces?
It is up to all of us to figure out ways to think, plan and live differently so that we can make room for trees. All of Seattle’s public agencies need to get on the same page about this city’s tree-canopy decline and “walk the talk.”
Sometimes, doing the right thing is expensive, but it’s still the right thing to do.
— John Hushagen, owner, Seattle Tree Preservation, Seattle
A gold-medal moment
Phelps honors his mom
For all of the excitement, splendor and grand spectacle of Michael Phelps’ performance at the Beijing Olympics, nothing can compare to his humble statement at the end of his eighth gold-medal race: “There’s so much emotion … I kind of just want to see my mom” [page one, Aug. 17].
Music to the ears of this mother of a 9-year-old son.
— Jocelyn Hudson, Shoreline
A despotic honor
And the award for biggest geopolitical bully goes to
In the current spirit of competition, I nominate a new prize: the Putin Award for “The Golden Bully,” for those despotic, third-string bullies who pick on weaker people or countries.
The award would be included in medals given out to despots, their armies and associated thugs [“U.S.: Russians still entrenched in Georgia,” News, Aug. 17].
The medal given to their militaries would be smaller. You wouldn’t want it the same size or larger, as despotic, third string-bullies would get mad at being shortchanged.
This award would be made from everyday cow pies, and embossed with the words, “current bully, Vladimir Putin.”
For those looking for awards to give local, state or national politicians, feel free to use this highly valued award.
— Gary P. North, Seattle